In Mid-March, with the COVID-19 pandemic growing, schools closed and North Carolinians were issued stay-at-home orders. With no time to prepare, everything changed. Parents suddenly found themselves without child care, juggling working from home, working on the front lines, or facing losing their jobs completely. Child care centers struggled with whether and how to stay open, and how to stay safe in the face of a virus we knew very little about. In the early days of COVID-19, we were all building the plane while we were flying it.
OCPYC responded by offering immediate support to child care centers in the form of weekly virtual meetings co-hosted by the Child Care Services Association (CCSA). These weekly meetings provided a critical link to information, resources, and support during the early days of the pandemic, and are still being held eight months later. Calls are typically attended by 20+ people including directors, local agency leads, licensing and health care consultants, and other trusted experts.
OCPYC was designated as the county liaison to child care centers by the North Carolina Partnership for Children and the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education. OCPYC’s Healthy Starts for Infants and Toddlers Coordinator Shawna Daniels says, “we surveyed centers about their materials and supply needs, created and distributed a list of vendors, and provided direct assistance to center directors when requested.” OCPYC also held trainings for directors on policy-writing to promote health and safety in the new COVID-19 world. Many of our programs were able to quickly transition to a virtual format, in many cases leading to increased levels of family participation and engagement.
“Children enjoyed being online in Family Literacy class with their moms. First, we sang and acted out ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands!’ and the children did a great job of clapping, stomping, hopping, turning around, and ‘touching the sky.’
Our pre-k classroom teachers later shared One Red Sock by Jennifer Sadler. The children loved this story, and they began to hold up their own feet to show the crazy socks they had on that day. One almost-three-year-old ran off to find her own red and white striped crazy sock, put it on and showed it to us. Parents, kids and teachers all laughed and laughed over this funny book.
Instructing online, we can still develop children’s gross motor skills through moving and singing. And further, we can support fine motor skills, and parent-child-teacher literacy interactions through reading online. We have found that we can have fun with books, even in remote instruction!”
-Teacher Virginia, Orange County Literacy Council Family Literacy Program